Poem Concerning the Departure of the Magi


This 15th-century manuscript, in Renaissance script, contains a poetic composition (De profectione Magorum adorare Christum et de innocentibus interfectis ab Herode) by a "Gabriel Volaterranus." The author was in all likelihood Gabriello Zacchi da Volterra, the archpriest (acting dean, vicar to the bishop) of the cathedral, who was from a culturally sophisticated background and died in 1467 at the age of 33. The author dedicates the work to Tommaso del Testa Piccolomini, the secret assistant of Pope Pius II (folio 132r), to whom Pius had granted the privilege of kinship with the Piccolomini family. In 1460 Tommaso was also awarded the title of imperial counselor by Federico III da Montefeltro, with the honor of adding the imperial eagle to his coat of arms; subsequently he was made bishop of Sovana and later bishop of Pienza. The presence of the imperial eagle in Testa Piccolomini’s coat of arms within the decoration of the codex (folio 132r) suggests 1460 as the earliest possible plausible year for dating the manuscript. José Ruysschaert attributed the illuminated decoration, with its white vine-stem motifs, to Gioacchino de' Gigantibus, who was active in the early 1460s in the cultural circle of Pope Pius II. The manuscript is bound in a composite codex that gathers together five manuscripts of different age (dating from the end of the 13th century to circa 1521) and provenance, and which are also dissimilar in layout, graphic style, and format.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

Carmen de profectione Magorum


Type of Item

Physical Description

13 folios : parchment ; 206 × 137 millimeters


  • Shelfmark: ms. H.VI.31[4]


  1. Biblioteca comunale degli Intronati, The Biblioteca comunale degli Intronati for The James Madison Council: manuscripts, incunables, drawings and prints (Siena: 2011).

Last updated: October 17, 2017